When Deadlock first began making serious concentrated attempts at incorporating melodic female vocals into their songs, it was the dynamic and contrast they provided which left many clamoring for more. Fast forward two albums later and the group have recklessly driven off the rails in a train wreck that will appeal to a different audience altogether while simultaneously alienating what's left of their original fan base.
The female vocals have now clearly stolen the main focus of the band and their generally poppy and operatic nature makes much of the record sound like a cage match between Evanescence and Dimmu Borgir. It's a decidedly lopsided battle and one that simply fails to gel at most junctures. Adding to this identity crisis are the groups ill advised stabs at experimentation. You'd think that the electronic dance beats or the sax solo on "Fire At Will" that sounds like it was lifted from a Duran Duran song would be enough. But then a hip-hop interlude from the Hitfarmers unexpectedly shows up from out of nowhere on "Deathrace" and throws a wrench in the momentum the band have built.
Still, it's not an outright disaster as the band's take on melodic death metal is resolute when they focus on their strengths. Solid fiery guitar work, dense atmospheric metal and dark overtones are all key parts of this release. But when each song seems to degenerate into a predictable call and response between evil and angelic vocals, things can be come stagnant rather quickly. It's a shame to say that given the talent and moments of genius the group have shown in the past that they have fallen this far. But there is always a risk that when jumping the shark it will take a bite of your ass and with "Manifesto" it will be surprising if Deadlock are able to sit comfortably in the melodic death metal heap ever again.
(2 / 5)